Law in Kenya proposes employers provide breastfeeding stations


By Gatonye Gathura

The proposed law requires all employers to establish lactation stations at the work place for mothers with breast feeding children.

Lactation stations, or suckling pens for mothers, the Health Bill say must be comfortable, well equipped and most importantly cannot be part of or in the toilet.

The station must come complete with hand washing facilities, appropriate milk cooling kits and fitted with electrical outlets for breast pumps.

“It should have a table and comfortable seats of the standard of which will be defined by the Ministry of Health,” says the mediated bill.

However it will be a breach of the law if any employer markets, promotes or sells infant formula or breast substitutes within the lactation stations.

Employers will be required to grant nursing workers adequate breaks to attend to the children which will be about one broken hour for every eight working hours.

It is estimated that, a new mom returning to work needs to express breast milk two or three times in every eight-hour period.

Also good news for millions of Kenya who subscribe to traditional and alternative medicine is that for the first time the practice has been legally recognized.

While debate on whether to incorporate traditional, herbal and such other practices into modern medicine is not new the Health Bill proposed the established of a legal body to oversee the practice.

The regulatory body to be established through an act of Parliament will formulate standards in the sub-sector and determine how much patients will be charged for the services.

“The body will set the minimum standards of practice for traditional and alternative medicines while also enforcing compliance of the same,” says the Bill.

Most important though, the body with others will oversee the integration of alternative medicine in conventional hospitals. This may for example mean a herbalist could soon be working alongside a heart surgeon at Kenyatta National Hospital.

The body is also being mandated to work out a system for patient referral between the two types of practices – alternative and conventional. In such a case a diabetes specialist at Kenyatta could formally refer a patient to a herbalist while the later could do likewise.

“This is a wonderful development,” says herbal practitioner, Shadrack Moimett of Koibatek Herbal Clinic.

“We only hope this time around things will move much faster and not be bogged in official red tape,” says Moimett a longtime advocate for the official recognition of traditional medicine.

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